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  #1  
Old Feb 19, '12, 6:56 pm
ThyKingdomCome ThyKingdomCome is offline
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Default Parental Control Software Question

I need to start using parental control software for my 10yo. He currently is allowed on a handful of websites (lego.com being one), and he needs to be able to do internet searches for school-related research. I am aware of a couple of programs, but they don't give out a lot of information without downloading the software. I'm hoping maybe some of you have used them and can give me a couple of specifics before I spend days trying out every option under the sun. I am looking for:

--basic web filtering
--I'd like to be able to filter images of girls in their undies if possible (like on google image search)
--If it's not possible to filter individual images, I'd like to filter out the google image search altogether
--I'd like to be able to easily turn off the filtering with a password. Or be able to access blocked content with a password.
--I do NOT want to have to switch back and forth between different Windows user accounts (this causes problems of access to the rest of the stuff on my hard drive - and I don't want to restrict that, just the web)

Norton's service doesn't seem to do this. I haven't tried anything else yet, but the free ones on my mind so far are: K9, OpenDNS, Windows Live Essentials.

Has anyone used these that can tell me if they do what I want them to? Or is there another program out there that does (I'm willing to consider paying for one, if I am sure it has what I need)?
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  #2  
Old Feb 19, '12, 7:07 pm
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28562 28562 is offline
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Default Re: Parental Control Software Question

K9 is great. You can block 'open image searches' so that you can't see ANY image searches. If he tries to do something that is blocked, you get a barking dog sound coming through the speakers to let you know he might be doing something he shouldn't be.

Actually, K9 will do everything you listed, and it's FREE.
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  #3  
Old Feb 19, '12, 7:11 pm
PaulGH PaulGH is offline
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Default Re: Parental Control Software Question

Quote:
Originally Posted by ThyKingdomCome View Post
I need to start using parental control software for my 10yo. He currently is allowed on a handful of websites (lego.com being one), and he needs to be able to do internet searches for school-related research. I am aware of a couple of programs, but they don't give out a lot of information without downloading the software. I'm hoping maybe some of you have used them and can give me a couple of specifics before I spend days trying out every option under the sun. I am looking for:

--basic web filtering
--I'd like to be able to filter images of girls in their undies if possible (like on google image search)
--If it's not possible to filter individual images, I'd like to filter out the google image search altogether
--I'd like to be able to easily turn off the filtering with a password. Or be able to access blocked content with a password.
--I do NOT want to have to switch back and forth between different Windows user accounts (this causes problems of access to the rest of the stuff on my hard drive - and I don't want to restrict that, just the web)

Norton's service doesn't seem to do this. I haven't tried anything else yet, but the free ones on my mind so far are: K9, OpenDNS, Windows Live Essentials.

Has anyone used these that can tell me if they do what I want them to? Or is there another program out there that does (I'm willing to consider paying for one, if I am sure it has what I need)?
We have used Blue Coat K9 Web Protection for probably over a year now, and it has worked very well for us. It is a very customizable internet filter. It categorizes web pages, and then you can tell it which specific categories you want it to block. Also, any time that you visit a blocked web page, you can override the block (either temporarily or permanently) using a password. (Just make sure you don't lose or forget the password though, because you need it to change the filtering settings or to uninstall the software.) It also automatically forces YouTube's "safety mode" to "on" and doesn't allow it to be turned off, whenever you visit youtube.com. However, I notice that I can turn off "safe search" on Google image search, which I didn't think it would allow. That might warrant some additional investigation.

K9 is not perfect. It will occasionally allow a web page that it shouldn't. But it seems to do a very good job, and one huge advantage is that it is free for personal use. I haven't used any other web filtering software, so I can't really do a comparison, but I have been happy with K9.
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  #4  
Old Feb 19, '12, 7:24 pm
PaulGH PaulGH is offline
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Default Re: Parental Control Software Question

Quote:
Originally Posted by PaulGH View Post
However, I notice that I can turn off "safe search" on Google image search, which I didn't think it would allow. That might warrant some additional investigation.
I played around with the settings, and found that I can block Google image search completely by blocking the "open image / media search" category. (Thanks, 28562, for the idea.) But I still don't see a way to allow Google image search but force it to keep the safe search mode turned on. Oh well; this is the only annoying limitation I have found so far. And it's still possible that there is a solution that I just haven't found yet.

One tip: If you do use K9, and if you use the "Custom" filtering setting (which allows you to choose exactly which categories to block, from a long list of categories), please note that "LGBT" is listed under "Other Categories" (many of which are not at all objectionable) rather than under "Commonly Blocked Categories" where you might expect to find it.
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  #5  
Old Feb 19, '12, 7:25 pm
ThyKingdomCome ThyKingdomCome is offline
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Default Re: Parental Control Software Question

Thanks, that's good to know. Others pipe up too, if possible. I wonder, is it too much to ask to be able to filter specific images, but not ALL of them (that's what K9 does, right - block all of them)?

Here's the example: A while ago, I did a google image search for "fox" because my 1st grader needed a picture of the animal for a project. Of course, I'm sure you can imagine what sort of images popped up (whether they were "foxy" ladies, or Megan Fox, I'm not sure - stupid me, I didn't anticipate it), and many of them included lingerie. Another time, I googled "pretty lady" to see what type of images would come up, and of course, the results were definitely not appropriate for my kids' eyes. At this stage, I am pretty sure they are not looking for inappropriate stuff, it's just the accidents I'd like to avoid. But if I could find a way to let them still see images, it would be really nice. Pipe dream?
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  #6  
Old Feb 19, '12, 7:26 pm
Christ Bearer Christ Bearer is offline
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Default Re: Parental Control Software Question

I agree with the others. We have been using K9 for years and it has worked beautifully. You still have to be careful with image searches. Things will still come up. But it is the best out there that I can find.
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  #7  
Old Feb 19, '12, 7:28 pm
PaulGH PaulGH is offline
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Default Re: Parental Control Software Question

Quote:
Originally Posted by 28562 View Post
K9 is great. You can block 'open image searches' so that you can't see ANY image searches. If he tries to do something that is blocked, you get a barking dog sound coming through the speakers to let you know he might be doing something he shouldn't be.
By the way, just for the benefit of ThyKingdomCome, I will mention that you can turn off the barking dog sound on blocked pages if you find it annoying. It is a configurable setting.
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  #8  
Old Feb 19, '12, 7:32 pm
PaulGH PaulGH is offline
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Default Re: Parental Control Software Question

Quote:
Originally Posted by ThyKingdomCome View Post
Thanks, that's good to know. Others pipe up too, if possible. I wonder, is it too much to ask to be able to filter specific images, but not ALL of them (that's what K9 does, right - block all of them)?

Here's the example: A while ago, I did a google image search for "fox" because my 1st grader needed a picture of the animal for a project. Of course, I'm sure you can imagine what sort of images popped up (whether they were "foxy" ladies, or Megan Fox, I'm not sure - stupid me, I didn't anticipate it), and many of them included lingerie. Another time, I googled "pretty lady" to see what type of images would come up, and of course, the results were definitely not appropriate for my kids' eyes. At this stage, I am pretty sure they are not looking for inappropriate stuff, it's just the accidents I'd like to avoid. But if I could find a way to let them still see images, it would be really nice. Pipe dream?
There may be a way to do filter out at least some of that stuff, but I'm not sure.

I think that image search will always be tricky no matter how good the filtering software is, because while a computer program can easily recognize key words and block pages on that basis, it is harder for a program to know automatically which images are or are not appropriate. Images can be categorized manually (i.e., a person looks at an image, and categorizes it as nudity, or lingerie, or whatever), but there are far too many images on the internet for a person to look at and categorize every image.

UPDATE: I just now tried your "fox" search on Google Images, and I was surprised to see that even if I set Google's "SafeSearch" mode to "Strict," it still comes up with quite a few pictures of women in lingerie. I reported several of the images as offensive, so maybe that will help a little with this particular search, but there are many other searches that similarly could go wrong. Your best bet may be just to block the image search category altogether, to be safe.
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  #9  
Old Feb 19, '12, 7:57 pm
TheRealJuliane TheRealJuliane is offline
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Default Re: Parental Control Software Question

I used to use K-9, but I did find it let a lot of stuff through, mostly the images, which is, unfortunately, what my teenage son was searching for. That was when he was still using my laptop and I could control him more.

We now have Open DNS, and it covers anyone in the network. I like it really well, but I suspect there are still a few things slipping through. It's easy to configure and monitor but there are a few glitches/problems.

There is no substitute for close monitoring of the computer. The people who want to deliver this stuff keep trying to sneak it in. Once I was doing a search of Yahoo images. I clicked on one of the innocuous photos and the next page was porn! How they did that, I have no idea.
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  #10  
Old Feb 19, '12, 8:30 pm
Nechasin Nechasin is offline
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Default Re: Parental Control Software Question

We use K-9 and Opendns. OpenDNS is set for a looser controls, but it controls everything through the router. You do need to make sure that your router can strip out DNS addresses that are hard-coded into a computer. K-9 is setup up on the main computer that the kids use and it has stricter controls on it. We use K-9 with the stricter controls because it does have a bypass feature so that you can enter a password and allow the websites to go through. With open DNS you do not have that option. Although you can whitelist certain domains if you are sure that they are ok.
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  #11  
Old Feb 20, '12, 9:25 am
ThyKingdomCome ThyKingdomCome is offline
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Default Re: Parental Control Software Question

Thanks everyone. It sounds like K9 might be a good place for us to start, and it looks like I may be stuck avoiding images altogether for now too...
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  #12  
Old Feb 20, '12, 1:06 pm
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Mommyof02green Mommyof02green is offline
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Default Re: Parental Control Software Question

We use BOTH K9 and OpenDNS. Our set up is very much like Nechasin:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nechasin View Post
We use K-9 and Opendns. OpenDNS is set for a looser controls, but it controls everything through the router. You do need to make sure that your router can strip out DNS addresses that are hard-coded into a computer. K-9 is setup up on the main computer that the kids use and it has stricter controls on it. We use K-9 with the stricter controls because it does have a bypass feature so that you can enter a password and allow the websites to go through. With open DNS you do not have that option. Although you can whitelist certain domains if you are sure that they are ok.

We like, Nechasin, have OpenDNS set for looser controls and controls everything via the router. Sometimes it blocks me form being able to see things and at time I get annoyed, but mostly I figure if it's blocked by OpenDNS then it's most likely not worth going to see, even if my friends think it is.

The K9 is only on the computer the kids use, they aren't allowed to be on the internet on any other computer. That's because it blocks even more and if by chance I need to unblock something for them, I can do it. For a period of time we were using Littleye I got a free deal for it because we homeschool. The only down side to Littleye was at time when the browsers upgraded it stopped working properly. It would take them a while to patch it. It was for that reason we stopped using it.
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  #13  
Old Feb 21, '12, 4:38 am
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MissRose73 MissRose73 is offline
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Default Re: Parental Control Software Question

NetNanny is another recommended item for parental controls. But the best parental control is having the computer(s) in an area where a parent can be supervising the child's usage no matter if its educational and/or recreational use.
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  #14  
Old Feb 21, '12, 4:48 am
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mandajane mandajane is offline
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Default Re: Parental Control Software Question

As an internet junkie, and someone with a medium to advanced level of experience with computers, I feel that I should warn you - your child *will* find a way to bypass your internet security. A quick google search gave me multiple websites with step by step instructions on removing K9 without a password the first page.

I think what is more advisable here is to sit down and be open with your child about what they are and are not allowed to do on the computer, and to trust them. I know many kids and teenagers who felt betrayed because their parents installed a blocking software, instead of engaging in responsible parenting.

If you're worried about what websites your child will be going on, talk to him about why he shouldn't be going to those sites, and keep the computer in a public place. By installing a parental control software, all you are telling him is 'I don't trust you to follow the rules.'

It sets a bad precedent.
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  #15  
Old Feb 21, '12, 6:04 am
Nechasin Nechasin is offline
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Default Re: Parental Control Software Question

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Originally Posted by mandajane View Post
As an internet junkie, and someone with a medium to advanced level of experience with computers, I feel that I should warn you - your child *will* find a way to bypass your internet security. A quick google search gave me multiple websites with step by step instructions on removing K9 without a password the first page.

I think what is more advisable here is to sit down and be open with your child about what they are and are not allowed to do on the computer, and to trust them. I know many kids and teenagers who felt betrayed because their parents installed a blocking software, instead of engaging in responsible parenting.

If you're worried about what websites your child will be going on, talk to him about why he shouldn't be going to those sites, and keep the computer in a public place. By installing a parental control software, all you are telling him is 'I don't trust you to follow the rules.'

It sets a bad precedent.

I agree with most of your post, and I do talk to my kids about what they are allowed to do on the internet.

I have the software installed not to prevent them from intentionally going to a website, but going to a website unintentionally. Have you ever typed www.whitehouse.com instead of www.whitehouse.gov. An extremely easy mistake to make for an adult much less a kid. I've done searches or clicked links myself and got the warning page and had to think twice about what I was doing.

You insinuate that by installing safeguards you are not engaging in responsible parenting. I would have to disagree with that statement. I believe that with the extremes that some adult sites go to to get internet traffic, that you are not engaging in responsible parenting if you don't install some kind of protection to protect their innocence.
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